IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
Criminal Appeal No. 1061 of 2019
(Arising out of SLP (Crl.) No.193 of 2019)
STATE NCT OF DELHI …. Respondent (s)
L. NAGESWARA RAO, J.
1. On receipt of information on 27.10.2015 about a
suicide, PW-23 Sub-Inspector Bijender Dahia attached to
Police Station Aman Vihar rushed to Nithari village, Delhi.
By the time he reached, the body of the deceased i.e.
Moniya had already been brought down from hanging
position. Ashwani (PW-12), the brother of the deceased was
found sitting besides the body of the deceased. The elder
brother of the Appellant was also present. A suicide note
was seized. PW-23 sent the body of the deceased for post-
mortem. The statement of Ashwani was recorded by PW-23.
Inquest was conducted by the Executive Magistrate on the
next day. According to the post-mortem, the cause of death
of Moniya was due to asphyxia as a result of ante mortem
2. FIR was registered on the statement of Sunita (PW-11),
the mother of the deceased on 04.11.2015. A charge sheet
was filed on 05.02.2016. Later, charges were framed
against the Appellant under Section 498A/Section304B of the
Indian Penal Code, 1860 (hereinafter ‘ SectionIPC’). 23 witnesses
were examined by the prosecution and several documents
relied upon to prove the guilt of the Appellant. The Trial
Court convicted the Appellant under Section 498A and Section306
IPC. Sentence of three years’ simple imprisonment for the
offence under Section 498A IPC and four years simple
imprisonment for the offence under Section 306 IPC was
imposed on the Appellant. The appeal filed by the Appellant
was partly allowed by the High Court. The Appellant was
acquitted for the offence under Section 306 IPC. The
conviction and sentence under Section 498A IPC was upheld
by the High Court. Hence, this appeal.
3. The deceased Moniya who was working as a teacher
was married to the Appellant on 02.05.2015. PW-11 Sunita
deposed that her daughter Moniya was being harassed by
the Appellant by demanding dowry. She testified in the
Court that on two occasions she gave Rs.40,000/- and
Rs.50,000/- to the deceased for handing over the same to
the Appellant to meet his demands of dowry. She stated
that the same was not informed either to her husband or
her son and that she made the payments from her savings.
She also spoke about the demand for a bigger car. The
Appellant was working in Nagercoil District, Tamil Nadu and
he was demanding for air fare to travel to the place of his
work. PW-11 further stated that she was informed by the
deceased that the Appellant had extra marital relations with
one Poonam and he informed the deceased that he
intended to marry Poonam after leaving the deceased.
4. The statement of PW-12 Ashwani was recorded on the
day of the incident in which he did not mention about the
demand of dowry by the Appellant. He stated that the
deceased was depressed by the behavior of the Appellant.
PW-10 Sukhbir, the father of the deceased, who reached the
place of incident also did not accuse the Appellant of any
demand of dowry. The suicide note which was seized from
the place of incident was proved on a comparison of the
admitted hand writing of the deceased from the school
records with the suicide note. The suicide note also did not
contain any allegation of demand of dowry by the Appellant.
The suicide note which was reproduced in the judgment of
the Trial Court is as follows:
“Relations have come heavy on dreams”
Always lived with head ups and never did nay work
by which I have to down my neck.
I love a lot to my dad and brother. Today they have
tears in their eyes
I have broken from inside. I love a lot to my
profession and education.
I have done nothing that is why I cannot tolerate
I want to live my life with Master Ji, He also
manipulated. I do not have any complaint to
5. After examining the evidence on record, the Trial Court
held that the demand of dowry was not proved. However,
the Trial Court was convinced that the prosecution proved
the extra marital relationship of the Appellant with Poonam.
The oral evidence relating to the Appellant informing the
deceased about such extra marital relations to the
deceased was accepted by the Trial Court. Having found
that the Appellant was guilty of mental cruelty, the Trial
Court convicted the Appellant under Section 498A, SectionIPC.
Though, there was no charge under Section 306 IPC, relying
upon the judgments of this Court, the Trial Court was of the
opinion that the conviction under Section 306 IPC was
permissible. The Trial Court found that the offence under
Section 306 IPC was made out against the Appellant and
6. The main issue that was considered by the High Court
in the appeal against the judgment of the Trial Court was
the correctness of the conviction under Section 306 IPC
without a charge being framed. The Appellant contended
before the High Court that the charge that was framed
against him was under Section 304B, SectionIPC and that he could
not have been convicted under Section 306 IPC. Placing
reliance on the judgments of this Court, it was held that a
conviction under Section 306 IPC is permissible even
without a charge being framed in a case where the accused
is charged under Section 304 B IPC. The High Court held
that such conviction would not amount to failure of justice.
However, the High Court found no convincing evidence to
hold that the Appellant abetted the commission of suicide
by the deceased. The Appellant was acquitted for the
offence under Section 306 IPC on the basis that there was
no evidence to show that the deceased was subjected to
mental or physical cruelty before her death. The High
Court affirmed the conviction of the Appellant under Section
Section498A IPC by holding that there was sufficient evidence on
record regarding the demand of dowry.
7. The acquittal of the Appellant under Section 306 IPC
has become final as no appeal is preferred by the State
against the judgment of the High Court. Ms. Aishwarya
Bhati, learned Senior Counsel on instructions submitted that
a decision was taken not to file the appeal in view of the
fact that the Appellant has already undergone the sentence
under Section 498A IPC. The learned counsel for the
Appellant submitted that his conviction under Section 498A
is impermissible after he was acquitted for the offence
under Section 306 IPC. He relied upon the reasons given by
the Trial Court regarding the non availability of any evidence
pertaining to demand of dowry.
8. Ms. Bhati, learned Senior Counsel for the State
submitted that it is clear from the evidence of the family
members of the deceased that there was demand of dowry
by the Appellant and the High Court was justified in holding
that the Appellant is guilty of committing an offence under
9. The conviction of the Appellant by the Trial Court
under Section 498A was not for demand of dowry. The
conviction under Section 498A was on account of mental
cruelty by the Appellant in having an extra marital relation
and the threats held out by him to the deceased that he
would leave her and marry Poonam.
10. The High Court acquitted the Appellant under Section
306 IPC by reaching a conclusion on the basis of evidence
that the charge of abetment of suicide on part of the
Appellant was not proved. Without any discussion of the
evidence pertaining to demand of dowry and without
dealing with the findings recorded by the Trial Court
regarding the demand of dowry, the High Court held that
the offence under Section 498A was made out.
11. Cruelty is dealt with in the Explanation to Section 498A
[498A. Husband or relative of husband of a woman
subjecting her to cruelty.—Whoever, being the
husband or the relative of the husband of a woman,
subjects such woman to cruelty shall be punished
with imprisonment for a term which may extend to
three years and shall also be liable to fine.
Explanation.—For the purpose of this section,
(a) any wilful conduct which is of such a nature as is
likely to drive the woman to commit suicide or to
cause grave injury or danger to life, limb or health
(whether mental or physical) of the woman; or
(b) harassment of the woman where such
harassment is with a view to coercing her or any
person related to her to meet any unlawful demand
for any property or valuable security or is on
account of failure by her or any person related to
her to meet such demand.]
12. Conviction under Section 498A IPC is for subjecting a
woman to cruelty. Cruelty is explained as any wilful conduct
which is likely to drive a woman to commit suicide or to
cause grave injury or danger to life, limb or health.
Harassment of a woman by unlawful demand of dowry also
partakes the character of ‘Cruelty’. It is clear from a plain
reading of Section 498A that conviction for an offence under
Section 498A IPC can be for wilful conduct which is likely to
drive a woman to commit suicide OR for dowry demand.
Having held that there is no evidence of dowry demand, the
Trial Court convicted the Appellant under Section 498A IPC
for his wilful conduct which drove the deceased to commit
suicide. The Appellant was also convicted under Section
306 IPC as the Trial Court found him to have abetted the
suicide by the deceased.
13. Section 306 IPC provides for punishment with
imprisonment that may extend to ten years. There should
be clear mens rea to commit the offence for conviction
under Section 306 IPC. It also requires an active act or
direct act which led the deceased to commit suicide seeing
no option and this act must have been intended to push the
deceased into such a position that he/she committed
suicide – SectionSee M. Mohan vs. State1. To attract the ingredients
of abetment, the intention of the accused to aid or instigate
or abet the deceased to commit suicide is necessary – See
Pallem Deniel Victoralions Victor Manter vs. State of Andhra
Pradesh2. Whereas, any wilful conduct which is likely to
drive the woman to commit suicide is sufficient for
conviction under Section 498A IPC. In this case, the High
Court recorded a categorical finding that neither mental nor
physical cruelty on the part of the Appellant was proved.
Therefore, the conviction under Section 498A IPC is not for
wilful conduct that drove the deceased to commit suicide.
The High Court held that though there was no demand of
dowry soon before the death, the prosecution proved dowry
demand by the Appellant immediately after the marriage.
14. The High Court ought not to have convicted the
Appellant under Section 498A for demand of dowry without
a detailed discussion of the evidence on record, especially
when the Trial Court found that there is no material on
record to show that there was any demand of dowry. The
1 (2011) 3 SCC 626
2 (1997) 1 Crimes 499 (AP)
High Court did not refer to such findings of the Trial Court
and record reasons for its disapproval.
15. For the aforementioned reasons, the judgment of the
High Court is set aside. The appeal is allowed.
[L. NAGESWARA RAO]
July 18, 2019.